On the Sunday Times books of the year list is a look at the future of food:
Eating to Extinction is an astonishing journey through the past, present and future of food, a love letter to the diversity of global food cultures, and a work of great urgency and hope.
From a tiny crimson pear in the west of England to great chunks of fermented sheep meat in the Faroe Islands to an exploding corn in Mexico that might just hold the key to the future of food – these are just some of the thousands of foods around the world today that are at risk of being lost for ever.
In this captivating and wide-ranging book, Dan Saladino spans the globe to uncover the stories of these foods. He meets the pioneering farmers, scientists, cooks, food producers and indigenous communities who are preserving food traditions and fighting for change. All human history is woven through these stories, from the first great migrations to the slave trade to the refugee crisis today. But Eating to Extinction is about so much more than preserving the past. Eating to Extinction reveals a world at a crisis point: the future of our planet depends on reclaiming genetic biodiversity before it is too late.
This is the start of an excellent review:
Within five minutes of my desk can be found: an Italian delicatessen, a Vietnamese pho house, a pizzeria, two Chinese, a Thai, and an Indian “with a contemporary twist” (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it). Can such bounty be extended over the Earth?
Yes, it can. It’s already happening. And in what amounts to a distillation of a life’s work writing about food, Dan Saladino’s Eating to Extinction explains just what price we’ll pay for the global food industry’s extraordinary achievement which hopes, not only to end world hunger by 2030 (a much-touted UN goal), but to make California rolls available everywhere, from Kamchatka to Karachi.
You think your experience of world cuisine reflects global diversity? The problem with my varied diet is that it’s also your varied diet, and your neighbour’s; in other words, it’s rapidly becoming the same varied diet across the whole world. Humanity used to sustain itself (admittedly, not too well) on 6,000 species of plant. Now, for more than three-quarters of our calories, we gorge on just nine: rice, wheat and maize, potato, barley, palm oil and soy, sugar from beets and sugar from cane. The same narrowing can be found in our consumption of animals and seafood. In short, we’ve learnt to grow ever greater quantities of ever fewer foods.